Children

Strange History by The Bathroom Readers’ Institute

Available now: Strange History

****4/5 stars

Fabulously entertaining, Strange History has great anecdotes, myths and more in history.

Recommended readers:

  • If you need some quick reading facts and story
  • If you’re a history buff and like odd facts
  • If you need an entertaining bathroom read

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall
  • 3/5 steaminess

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

 

Have  you been reading the same old bathroom book? Strange History is the perfect, entertaining read with funny anecdotes and facts from history. A great read for kids too, even as young as middle grades, since the stories are short – sometimes just a paragraph. Much like a Guinness Book of World Records, Strange History is super entertaining. It would be a fun gift for a hubby, gag gift or friend.

Available now: Strange History

 

The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill by Andrea Warren

Available now: The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas

**** 3.5/5 stars- Loved it – great for teens

A great read for any middle schooler (or adult really) who likes a taste of history.

Recommended readers:

  • Wyoming natives (have you been to Cody, the town founded by Buffalo Bill)
  • Western history buffs
  • Middle Schoolers

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

We all know the legend of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show – but do we know what shaped and drove the man to be the charismatic, fearless entertainer that he was? Andrea Warren explores the sometimes sad, always challenging life that formed the man Billy Cody became. From the death of his older brother, to becoming the man of the house as early as 11. A fascinating read for an adult – and if you can get your teenager to read it too, even better.

Available now Amazon:  The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas

Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends

Available November 17: Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends (Kid Legends)

**** 4/5 stars- Loved it – great for kidsdstabler-kidathletes

A great read for any middle grade kid who likes sports.

Recommended readers:

  • If you’re a soccer mom or dad (or baseball, football, hockey, etc)
  • Kids into sports – recommended middle grades
  • And if you’re just a sports fan

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

I loved the premise of this book – that amazing athletes who children idolize are real people too. As a parent, especially as my son is succeeding and failing at different activities, it’s a great perspective for him to have: That professional athletes are people who have won and lost throughout life. For my fourth-grader who is a Denver Broncos fan, he loved reading about Peyton Manning dancing the tango in front of his middle school. Other athletes included were Jackie Robinson, Yao Mind, Lionel Messi, Gabby Douglas, Tiger Woods and Danica Patrick. This is a fabulous read for middle grade kids who have an interest in sports – and covers a variety of sports, backgrounds and diversity with short stories and illustrations that make this especially good for middle grade readers.

Available now Amazon: Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends (Kid Legends)

Review: Angels at the Gate

Available this month: Angels at the Gate

****4.5/5 stars

Angels at the Gate is a fascinating adventure-romance and culturally powerful portrayal of early Biblical times.

Recommended readers:

  • If you enjoy learning about women in the Bible
  • Anyone who wants a realistic portrayal of early Biblical times
  • Looking for culture, adventure and a touch of romance

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 characters
  • 4/5 plot
  • 4.5/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

As daughter (disguised as a boy) to her desert wonderer-merchant father, Adira has had a hard-working but protected life in her father’s caravan. When two Northmen – one mysterious, one friendly and charming – join the caravan, Adira is swept into a new life based on survival, selfish-ambition and love. Angels at the Gate brings Biblical times to life, albeit fictionally, and puts a realistic play on the early story of Abraham and Lot in Genesis. I particularly enjoyed how T.K. Thorne portrays the challenges of a woman during the early Biblical times. It’s a fabulous plot driven story of adventure and culture with a touch of romance.

Note: It’s interesting to read this along with excerpts from Genesis. While Angels at the Gate is fiction, it has some factual inclusions and gives a dramatic portrayal of Biblical times – as noted in the back of the book.

Available on Amazon: Angels at the Gate

Review: The Book Thief

Available now: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

*****5/5 stars

Don’t be put off by the young adult category or the experimental format: this one is worth your time.

Recommended readers:

  • If you’re open to experimental fiction and alternate formats,
  • If you’re looking for something new and utterly original in Halocaust literature,
  • And if you hope to be completely undone by a book once in a while, this one is for you.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 characters
  • 5/5 plot
  • 5/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

“Brilliant” and “life-changing” boasts the cover, and I’m not sure I can do much better, except maybe to add life-affirming.  The Book Thief is uniquely narrated by a powerless Death, who must pause in his work–mandated by far reach of World War II– to notice one little girl and tell her story.  Overall, the takeaway is this: in an era when it’s difficult to keep up with books before they get made into a movie, this one is worth catching.  It’s disheartening and uplifting all at the same time, and it stays with you long after the last page is turned.

Available on Amazon: The Book Thief

Review: Esther by Angela Hunt

Available January 6: Esther: Royal Beauty (A Dangerous Beauty Novel)

****4.5/5 stars

An emotional portrayal of Esther is touching, real and gives such depth to a favorite Biblical icon.

Recommended readers:

  • Anyone looking for a perspective on Biblical times
  • If you love the Book of Esther and women in the Bible
  • and anyone who loves to learn about a prominent female in history

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 characters
  • 4/5 plot
  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

This Angela Hunt portrayal of Esther is dramatic and real – through the eyes of two characters: Hadassah (the Jewish name that Esther is called throughout) and Harbonah, the kind’s personal slave. The two perspective are brilliant in telling the full story and life of Persian times. I loved that this book didn’t glorify Esther, but instead made her real, human as she grows from a Jewish orphan girl living with her cousins to Queen of Persia to a wise and bold influencer of her husband King Xerxes.

Note: It’s interesting to read this and then read the Book of Esther. While Esther Royal Beauty is fiction, it is mostly factually based and gives a dramatic portrayal of Biblical times. While I can’t vouch for every Biblical accuracy of the book, there are no major contradictions; I recommend reading this book as fiction that gives a potential perspective to Esther’s story.

Available on Amazon: Esther: Royal Beauty (A Dangerous Beauty Novel)

Review: Little Miss Sure Shot

Available now:  Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World

****3.5/5 stars

Fiction or non-fiction? Either way you’ll find out you know less about Annie Oakley than you thought.

Recommended readers:Little Miss Sure Shot

  • Western history lovers
  • Natives of Wyoming, especially Cody, Wyoming
  • and anyone who loves to learn about a prominent female in history

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Categorically it’s fiction, but it’s hard to think of Little Miss Sure Shot as a work of fiction; it’s more of a barely romanticized non-fiction.  Confused? I was a little too at first … until I embraced it as more of a historical read. As a native of a Cody, Wyoming – a town founded by Annie Oakley’s long-time boss William F. Cody, I was interested to learn more of this well-known historical female figure even if there were some fictional assumptions. In fact, reading the book I realized how little I actually knew (I anticipate that most will feel the same). There’s more to Annie Oakley than we knew and Jeffrey Marshall details her story and life well.

Only $3.95 on Amazon: Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World

Children’s Review: The Neil Flambe Series

Available now:The Neil Flambé Capers Collection: Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders; Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction; Neil Flambé and the Crusader’s Curse; … the Tokyo Treasure (The Neil Flambe Capers)

****3/5 stars

A famous teenage chef  – with a super-sensitive nose – helps police solve murders.Neil Flambe Series

Recommended readers:

  • Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7 (probably best for grades 4+)
  • Did you like plot in Ratatouille, the movie?
  • and have a slight interest in cooking

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 for characters
  • 4/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Neil Flambe has his own world-famous restaurant, a slew of people following his demands, and an amazing noise that helps the police solve murders. With his amazing sense of smell, the teenager analyzes crime scenes, people and places to help the authorities get to the bottom of various mysteries. As a character Flambe is arrogant, cocky but with some reason … maybe someone a grade-schooler could identify with.  In parts Flambe tends to go into a little too much detail on his culinary creations, which I’m not sure kids will identify much with. The books are well written and interesting mysteries – and Flambe a distinctive character that I could see becoming a Nickelodeon TV show. The Caper Series by Kevin Sylvester includes four great books: Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders, Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction, Neil Flambé and the Crusader’s Curse, and Neil Flambé and the Tokyo Treasure. Great timing to get into the series before the fifth book comes out in January.

Here’s a fun video: 
Learn how to draw the fiery superchef Neil Flambe with Kevin Sylvester. Neil Flambe is a 14-year-old wunderchef. He can cook anything, and he brags that he can cook it better than anyone else. He’s cocky, but he may also be right. Patrons pay top…

Available on Amazon: The Neil Flambé Capers Collection: Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders; Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction; Neil Flambé and the Crusader’s Curse; … the Tokyo Treasure (The Neil Flambe Capers)

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Children’s Review: Dork Diaries 8

Available now: Dork Diaries Book 8: Tales from a Note-So-Happily Ever After

****4/5 stars

Dork Diaries

Image courtesy of Simon and Schuster.

There’s nothing like jumping into the mind of teenager Nikki Maxwell – and taking a ride through her dorky, accident-prone life. With a dose of entertaining teenage melodramatics, it’s the the girl-version of Diary of a Wimpy  Kid.

Recommended readers:

  • Girls Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7
  • Did you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid but want a girl-version?
  • If you like diary-style reading plus cutesy emoticons and scribbles

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 for characters
  • 4/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Who doesn’t love, love, love an accident prone and totally dramatic teenager girl? Well it’s a perfect book for a grade-schooler to giggle out loud to and dive into … much like adults laugh at Dumb and Dumber. I can like totally see preteens enjoying this book … from the annoying little sister who causes accidents to a  hunky guy, Nikki Maxwell may be a dork, but she’s totally likable and funny to read (as long as you’re like up with some pre-teen lingo).  With age-appropriate content and silly plots and stories, I would definitely recommend Dork Diaries if you’re looking for a gift for a pre-teen, grade-school girl. And an impressive note: The Dork Diaries are written and illustrated by author Rachel Renee Russell.

Here’s a fun video trailer: 

Available on Amazon: Dork Diaries

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